Art collective to host inaugural show at Brickhouse Pub

This article was updated on Monday, July 25, to reflect that Leland Kent is the manager of the Brick House Pub

GREAT BARRINGTON — A new local art collective is launching its first show Thursday at the Brick House Pub in Housatonic.

The collective, known as COUCH, is the brainchild of local artists Ryan Parker and Daniel Bialowas.

For now, COUCH stands for "The Creatively Organic Uneducated Collective of Housatonic;" Parker and Bialowas plan to change the acronym's meaning for every show. Both men have individual pieces up at the pub as well as collaborative work.

Parker and Bialowas are both relatively recent transplants to the Berkshires. Their paths to the area are similar — each met a woman from the area while living in New York City and moved with her up to the region in the last four years.

Bialowas, who originally hails from Rockland County in New York, uses brush painting to create "abstract psychedelic acrylic," he said. He described his process as an organic creativeness that "just happens and sometimes there are things that are hard to unsee. I listen to music and it gets me into these thinking patterns and the work just comes out."

Parker, from Santa Fe, N.M., is a collage artist whose process is different. He described his work as "manipulating found art in magazines in books I buy for the purpose of cutting into things that are more my style."

He takes the images and creates two-dimensional artscapes that are influenced by science fiction and horror films and books.

Take the two techniques and put them together and you have the COUCH Collective.

"I guess we didn't know if it would work or not to begin with," Bialowas said. "I had some watercolors I passed on to Parker and he added things to it and made it what it wasn't. That's similar to my own process, looking at stuff and seeing it change."

"I think our collaborative stuff works because Dan comes from organic place and genuine place," Parker added. "And I come from a place saturated with pop culture and media. But together, it works."

The two men will pass the art back and forth until both are happy with the product.

"It's not 'one-upmanship' " Parker said. "It's just adding what needs to be added."

"Making it what it needs to be," said Bialowas.

"A lot of the time it's things we've worked on that neither of us are happy with individually but then it works together," Parker said.

"Right, watercolors that are maybe not completely finished or I've just moved on," Bialowas.

Thursday's opening represents the third time the Brick House has housed work by the artists.

"The Brick House and [manager] Leland [Kent] have been so supportive of our shows and our art," Parker said.

Both men had successful shows at the pub over the past year. Bialowas had a show last fall and Parker followed him a few months later in winter. Kent asked them both to come back. It was good timing.

"We had been messing around with the idea of collaboration and a collective," Bialowas said. "We were thing about pooling our resources and assets. We were both offered the show and thought it was a good starting point."

For both men, the idea of starting a collective was enticing — even if they were flying by the seats of their pants.

"We wanted to start a collective, but we didn't know what that entailed," Bialowas said. "Most collectives are based around communes or studios. We don't share studios or creative spaces. But we share the Brick House."

"We share this space to talk and share ideas," Parker said. "Both our first shows in the Berkshires were here. It feels like home base."

"There's good support here," Bialowas said. "And there's beer."

If you go ...

What: C.O.U.C.H. Collective Art Show Opening featuring art by Ryan Parker and Daniel Bialowas

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: The Brick House Pub, 425 North Park St., Housatonic


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